Monday, October 27, 2014

Luke Bryan, Lee Brice, Cole Swindell concert review: Hollywood, Calif.

photo by Drew A. Kelly
A version of my review appeared at

Luke Bryan's first appeared on country radio in 2007 with his top 5 charter, "All My Friends Say." Saturday night, he performed with two such pals, who also just happened to be the opening acts.    

Cole Swindell assisted during a spirited “This Is How We Roll,” the No. 1 single they co-wrote with Florida Georgia Line and the pair comfortably worked both sides of the Hollywood Bowl stage.

Over the weekend in SoCal, Bryan finished his latest mammoth tour in support of 2013’s double platinum-selling “Crash My Party.”
Launched in January, the jaunt – primarily with Swindell and Lee Brice – encompassed three stadiums. Bryan and Brice also played at last spring’s Stagecoach Festival in Indio, Calif. Meanwhile, the “Party” album has spawned five Top 10 country singles.

At the Bowl, some fans held up colorful signs; others wore bright attire (one man was spotted in a sparkly confederate flag vest). 

Once the lights went down, orchestral music and blaring rock guitars heightened the anticipation level. An introductory scene featured Bryan shooting a flaming arrow. It proved to be an apt illustration for the sold-out gig, in which he hit the bull’s-eye with a high-energy 18-song performance that was basically wall-to-wall hits (“Roller Coaster,” “Play It Again,” “Do I,” “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”) and provided plenty of hip-shaking heat (“That’s My Kind of Night,” “Rain is a Good Thing”) for the ladies.

Bryan’s top-notch production values and band ably held fans' attention. Even an extended segment during which he impressively played piano didn’t appear to prompt a massive exodus.

Standouts included a good-natured duet with Lee Brice on “Crazy Girl” (which the opening act penned for Eli Young Band and joined Bryan for a swig of tequila), their feisty pairing on Alabama’s “Mountain Music,” the reflective pedal steel-infused “We Rode in Trucks,” a dramatic “Drink a Beer” (Bryan sat on a makeshift picket fence strumming acoustic guitar as gorgeous swamp imagery was projected behind him) and the appropriately hyper main set closer, “I Don’t Want This Night to End.” The latter found both Bryan and fans jumping around amid the usual segue into Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite.”

photo by Joseph Lanes
Backed by a six-piece band including an organ player and percussionist, Brice’s 45-minute set featured plenty of hard rock flourishes and a needless drum solo. “Parking Lot Party” delivered a rowdy vibe, later heightened by the simple sentiment of the bluesy, harmonica-driven “Beer.” Then Brice chugged down a can. 

Yet the burly denim clad singer fared best when he downshifted into more soulful territory on “Hard to Love,” got closer to the audience for sensitive ballad “A Woman Like You” and a passionate “I Drive Your Truck” (all three went to No.1; the latter saw fans hoist an American flag).

The conversational relationship advice of “Love Like Crazy” saw him nail its wailing chorus with ease. “Drinking Class,” an inspiring ode to the working man, also struck a strong chord with the crowd. Backdrop screen images of smokestacks, blue collar welders, etc., was a nice touch.

Returning for an encore, Brice dedicated recent heartfelt chart topper "I Don't Dance" to his wife and started it solo before his band carefully joined it. After the uplifting delivery, he truly looked touched by the enthusiastic response.

photo by George A. Paul
Like Bryan, the 31-year-old Swindell also hails from Georgia and is an alumni of the same college and fraternity.

He once handled tour merchandise for Bryan and has co-written several songs that the country superstar recorded ("Beer in the Headlights," "Roller Coaster" among others).

Obviously pleased to be on such a legendary stage like the Hollywood Bowl, Swindell started the solid 25-minute performance with an upbeat and fun "Hey Y'All."

An affable presence throughout, Swindell asked if anyone knew how to do 12 ounce curls before "Brought to You By Beer" (a reference to the song's lyrics). Cowgirls near the front of the stage danced along to “Get Me Some of That,” which the singer penned for Thomas Rhett. 

Swindell's own hit songs from his 2014 self-titled debut album like “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight” (dedicated to our troops serving overseas), “Let Me See Ya Girl” (featuring a soaring chorus) and closer “Chillin’ It” went over mighty well with early arrivals.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Butch Walker upcoming album, tour with Ryan Adams

Butch Walker‘s seventh full-length album Afraid Of Ghosts, will be released Feb. 3 via Dangerbird Records. The production was helmed by Ryan Adams at his PAX AM Studios in LA along with special guests Johnny Depp and Bob Mould. 

A Grammy and CMA-nominated producer and in demand session guitarist (Keith Urban, Panic! At the Disco, Fall OUt Boy, Taylor Swift, P!nk), Walker already unveiled first album track "Chrissie Hynde," wistfully invoking the legendary Pretenders frontwoman.

Now he has shared the album's title track. The track is available on iTunes as an instant-grat MP3 with the album pre-order. He has joined Adams on the road this fall for a nationwide tour, the latest dates follow:

11/6: Indianapolis, IN @ The Murat Theatre
11/8: Columbus, OH @ Palace Theatre
11/9: Detroit, MI @ Fillmore Detroit
11/11: Cleveland, OH @ State Theatre @ Playhouse Square
11/12: Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall
11/15: New York, NY @ Carnegie Hall
11/17: New York, NY @ Carnegie Hall
11/18: Boston, MA @ The Wang Theatre
11/19: Upper Darby, PA @ Tower Theatre
11/20: Red Bank, NJ @ Count Basie Theatre
11/22: New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom
11/23: New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom

Paul Rodgers brings R&B to 'Front and Center'

Paul Rodgers will be featured on public television concert series "Front and Center" beginning in mid-November (check local listings).

It was filmed on June 23 at the iHeartRadio Theater in New York City. 

The hour-long special features the rock legend alongside the all-star Memphis studio musicians that recorded latest album The Royal Sessions at Memphis’ Royal Studios. They perform classic soul and R&B songs.

"'Front and Center' was special indeed,” said Rodgers. “They provided a dazzling setting for all the Royal Session musicians from Memphis and myself to dig into the tracks from the album. Visually and aurally the show came off beyond my expectation. Everyone worked together to capture the same magic that we captured and recorded on the album. Absolutely a night in my life to remember and I'm thrilled that we can share it with the fans.”

Onstage, Rodgers is accompanied by The Royal Sessions musicians: Reverend Charles Hodges Sr. (Hammond B3), Leroy Hodges Jr. (bass), Archie “Hubby” Turner (Wurlitzer), Michael Toles (guitar), Steve Potts (drums).

Additionally, Rodgers was joined by The Royal Singers, three soulful, gospel-rooted vocalists, including Shontelle Norman, Sharisse Norman and Stefanie Bolton, and The Memphis Horns: Marc Franklin (trumpet), James L. Spake (baritone sax), Gary Topper (tenor sax), and Lannie McMillan Jr. (tenor sax).

Check local listings for specific Paul Rodgers on Front and Center airdates/times. Here are the SoCal ones:

Los Angeles, CA KLCS Friday, November 14th at 10PM
Los Angeles, CA PBS SoCal Sunday, November 16th at 8PM
San Bernardino, CA KVCR Saturday, November 29th at 10PM

On Nov. 3, Rodgers will return to the Royal Albert Hall in London, England, for a special show of The Royal Sessions, alongside classic hits from his catalog. This concert will see Paul Rodgers joined by Reverend Charles Hodges Sr., Leroy Hodges Jr., Michael Toles, Archie "Hubby" Turner, Steve Potts and the talented members of The Royal Singers and The Royal Horns.

More world tour dates for One Direction

One Direction has added dates for its 2015 stadium world tour, which will see the band perform in Australia, Japan and South East Asia in support of their new album Four (to be released Nov. 17).

The North American tour kicks off next July in San Diego. The additional dates go on sale Nov. 1 at

Group member Niall comments, “We could not be more excited about the new tour. We’ve started rehearsing songs from the new album and can’t wait for the fans to hear them live. We’re just so very thankful to our amazingly loyal fans - they make it possible for us to play in these incredible places and continue to surprise us every day with their unwavering support.”

Fans will have access to a pre-sale by visiting the band’s Facebook page on Oct. 29. Citi card members have access to pre-sale tickets now through Citi's Private Pass Program. For complete pre-sale details, visit Additional details are available at

The music video for the band’s lead single "Steal My Girl" premiered today. It features veteran actor Danny Devito ("Taxi").

Four will be released globally on Nov. 17 via Syco/Columbia Records. Fans can receive the band's first single “Steal My Girl” instantly if they pre-order the deluxe album on iTunes:

(subject to change)

6/10/15 Vienna, Austria – Ernst Happel Stadion
6/13/15 Brussels, Belgium – King Baudouin Stadium
6/16/15 Horsens, Denmark – CASA Arena
6/19/15 Oslo, Norway – Ullevaal Stadion
6/23/15 Gothenburg, Sweden – Ullevi Stadium
6/27/15 Helsinki, Finland – Olympiastadion

7/9/15 San Diego, CA – Qualcomm Stadium
7/11/15 San Francisco, CA – Levi's Stadium (on sale Nov. 14)
7/15/15 Seattle, WA – CenturyLink Field
7/26/15 Minneapolis, MN – TCF Bank Stadium
7/28/15 Kansas City, MO – Arrowhead Stadium
7/31/15 Indianapolis, IN – Lucas Oil Stadium
8/2/15 Pittsburgh, PA – Heinz Field
8/5/15 East Rutherford, NJ – MetLife Stadium
8/8/15 Baltimore, MD – M&T Bank Stadium
8/18/15 Columbus, OH – Ohio Stadium
8/23/15 Chicago, IL – Soldier Field
8/25/15 Milwaukee, WI – Miller Park
8/27/15 Cleveland, OH – FirstEnergy Stadium
8/29/15 Detroit, MI – Ford Field
9/1/15 Philadelphia, PA – Lincoln Financial Field
9/3/15 Buffalo, NY – Ralph Wilson Stadium
9/12/15 Boston, MA – Gillette Stadium

New live set on tap for YES

The band YES will release Like it Is - YES at the Bristol Hippodrome via Frontiers Music on
Dec. 9.

Available in 2CD/DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats, it encompasses two of the band’s albums, 1971’s The YES Album and 1977’s Going For The One, as they were performed live on the band’s recent world tour.

Says guitarist Steve Howe, "Playing complete albums is a great way to hear the development of YES music and relive the familiar transitions from one track to another.” 

“'Going For The One' is a wonderfully diverse set of songs, whilst 'The Yes Album' contains the most ‘played live’ songs in the career of the band,” he continues.

See track listing below.

“These are two bodies of music that many of the most devout YES fans wanted to hear in their entirety,” adds keyboardist Geoff Downes. “I believe our performance at the Bristol Hippodrome was among the most compelling of the entire tour.”

Watch a snippet of “Starship Trooper” here:

Track listing:

Going For The One
Turn Of The Century
Wonderous Stories
Yours Is No Disgrace
The Clap
Starship Trooper
I’ve Seen All Good People
A Venture
Perpetual Change

YES is currenly:

Chris Squire, bass
Steve Howe, guitars
Alan White, drums
Geoff Downes, keyboards
Jon Davison, vocals

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Placebo heads to Los Angeles on Friday

Placebo wraps up a brief North American tour – the first since 2007 – on Friday at Club Nokia in Los Angeles.

Last year, the London based alt-rock band put out its acclaimed seventh album Loud Like Love via Universal Music Enterprises.

A success throughout Europe and Asia, it reached the top five in 10 countries, including a few No. 1 entries.

Together since the mid-1990s, the trio has sold more than 12 million records worldwide and is best known Stateside for a pair of top 40 hits on modern rock radio: “Pure Morning” (1998) and “Infra-Red” (2006). They’ve racked up 10 UK top 20 hits, plus several others to date.     

In a video interview accompanying the latest album’s release, Brian Molko said that the lyrics this time around touched upon addiction and social media, but that he wrote about people rather than those specific things. Essentially, the singer/guitarist concentrated on relationships and how people relate to each other.

“First track ‘Loud Like Love’ is sort of celebratory, but then it gets dark from track 2, onwards. I think we’re just attracted to melancholy and dysfunction in general. It’s more interesting to write about.”

The unusual, riveting music video for first single “Too Many Friends” was directed by Saman Kesh and features narration by American author Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, American Psycho).

Provocative as always, highlights amid the solid collection include a haunting “Exit Wounds,” an intriguing, Radiohead-esque “Begin the End” (which clocks in at six minutes and finds Molko calmly signing, “knock me off my feet like heroin”), the dramatic, string-laden “Bosco” and propulsive title track.

Placebo plays Oct. 24 at Club Nokia in LA. Tickets for the 9 p.m. show are $43.50 and available through The Moth & The Flame opens. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pixies' 'Doolittle' to get deluxe treatment

Having seen the band perform at Coachella 2 Festival last spring, I'm really looking forward to hearing this...

To mark its 25th anniversary, 4AD Records will release Pixies: Doolittle 25, a deluxe, three-disc package that brings together for the first time all of the album's B-sides, Peel Sessions and demos from the time, along with the original album.

Nearly half of the tracks on this album are being commercially released for the first time. Set for a December 2, 2014 North American in-store date, Pixies: Doolittle 25 will be available in CD and all digital formats, as well as a double-vinyl edition that features all of the B-sides, Peel Sessions and demos.

Doolittle, the second studio album from Pixies - Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Kim Deal and David Lovering - was to prove a pivotal moment for both band and the wider scene. For the few years prior, the band had enjoyed cult status in their homeland with their early records having to find their way to the U.S. on import. In 1989 their British label (4AD) joined forces with American giant Elektra for Doolittle to receive a full domestic release.

Produced by Gil Norton in late 1988, Doolittle was an instant hit containing some of the band's most memorable singles ("Monkey Gone To Heaven," "Here Comes Your Man," "Debaser"). A slow-burn success story followed, helping them to sell in excess of a million copies in the U.S. alone.

The band toured Doolittle in 2009 to celebrate its 20th birthday and five years on from then, it's now time to give it the deluxe release treatment it deserves.

The three-CD Pixies: Doolittle 25 contains 50 tracks with the original album on disc one, two full Peel Sessions and six B-sides on disc two, and the complete album in demo form plus seven bonus tracks on disc three. A gatefold two-LP version is also being released, with two pieces of 180g black vinyl being pressed - the first containing six B-sides and two full Peel Sessions and the second being the album in complete demo form plus three bonus tracks. A download card is included, offering access to all LP tracks plus four more bonus tracks.

Like all other Pixies sleeves before it, Vaughan Oliver returns to oversee its design, reinterpreting his original artwork and Simon Larbalestier's photographs to create a stunning new design using metallic ink.